I’ve got to confess, I adore Pesto. There’s something about the vibrant green and heady aroma of fresh basil, the creamy pine nuts, oozy oil and punch of raw garlic. I’m in danger of dribbling over the keyboard! Of course there are hundreds, if not thousands of recipes out there but I always go back to the first one I ever tried and that’s a Delia Smith, our very own national treasure. To be fair, she did pretty much teach me how to cook – for anyone who remembers her How to Cook books? (Well, her and a brilliant range of M&S Cookery books that I’ve still got and are so battered now they’re barely legible).
Delia’s Home Made Pesto (Delia’s Summer Collection)
50g (2oz) fresh basil leaves
1 large clove of garlic
1 tablespoon pine kernels
90mls (6tbsp) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I used the Bravoleum I’ve mentioned before, a Spanish Arbequina)
25g Parmesan (be careful to choose Vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese if you’re vegetarian rather than just enjoying eating more veggie food)
Delia says to crush the garlic and grate the cheese but I’ve got to be honest, I don’t bother. I just chop both into reasonable sized pieces and throw everything into the Magimix along with a pinch of salt.
Now it’s fair to say that you don’t get a silky smooth, lump free puree but what you do get is a fantastic, fresh, rustic looking pesto that, I think, beats every other pesto sauce hands down.
Back to Delia’s recipe though:
If you have a blender put the basil, crushed garlic, pine kernels, olive oil and a pinch of salt into the goblet and blend until you have a smooth puree.
Transfer this to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese.
If you don’t have a blender use a large pestle and mortar to pound the basil, garlic and pine kernels to a paste, slowly add the salt and cheese then very gradually add the oil until you have obtained a smooth puree.
This is of course great stirred into freshly cooked pasta (in which case you’ll serve 3-4 people) and it’s fabulous mixed into rice, cooked vegetables or even in a potato bake: Slice potatoes and onions and layer them in an ovenproof dish. Stir a spoonful of pesto into enough vegetable stock to come about 1cm up the side of the dish. Cover and bake in a moderate oven for about 45 minutes, uncover and sprinkle with grated cheese returning to the oven for about 30 minutes more until the potatoes are meltingly soft and the cheese crisp and golden. Serve with salad or steamed vegetables.